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Ford Romania to Start B-Max Production in September 2011; New Transit Connect in 2012​

Leading US automaker Ford will start to produce a new small car next year at its Romanian plant and it stands by its investment in the country, the company said yesterday.

"The vehicle that we will launch next year will be a small car. It will be approximately 150,000 (units) a year. It will be a unique vehicle. It will not be a vehicle that we have in the portfolio at the moment," Ford's executive vice-president for Global Manufacturing, John Fleming, told reporters.

"The production of the new model will start more towards the end of next year, probably from September," he added.

He refused to give more details about the vehicle for "competitive reasons."

Fleming acknowledged that Ford was behind with its plans for the plant in Craiova, 250 kilometres (155 miles) west of Bucharest.

Ford bought the former Daewoo plant in 2008 and promised to invest 675 million euros (US$880 million) to increase annual capacity to 300,000 cars and 300,000 engines from 2011.

The company was supposed to produce up to 250,000 cars by the end of 2011, according to an agreement with the Romanian government.

"We are late but we will get all of the capacity installed. We will be able to produce 300,000 vehicles by 2013," Fleming said, stressing that the 675-million-euro investment target remained unchanged.

Actual production could be lower, at 225,000 units in 2013, depending on market conditions, Fleming said, adding that the company also plans to produce here a high-tech engine offering 20 percent better fuel economy.

Ford said it intends to hire around 3,500 people in the next two years, alongside the more than 3,500 employees it took over from Daewoo.

About 80 per cent of the vehicles produced in Romania will be exported to other European countries.

Starting from 2012, the plant will also produce a replacement for the Transit Connect, but the company’s officials refused to offer details about the light commercial vehicle.
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